Photographers' Blog

Over your shoulder

Cannes, France

By Yves Herman

“Over your shoulder, look at me, straight ahead, dead center, ooh la la, give me eye contact, sir, madam, on your right, big smile, show me your dress, you look gorgeous!” It’s all you can say to catch their attention, you need them to look straight in to the lens of your camera.

Yes, we are talking about the stars, the real ones, the big ones but also those who fill the pages of magazines. They can be actors, models, TV hosts or even socialites. They are popular and bankable for 1,000s of photographers standing on the red carpets in Cannes.

The annual Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera is the biggest film festival in the world. Running for 12 days, it garners the attention of thousands of reporters and the entire world of cinema fans. Press photographers from everywhere gather in the south of France, equipped with a bunch of cameras and all their lenses and flashes, searching to immortalize celebrities.

THE PHOTOCALLS

At Cannes, a film needs to be advertised and the cast members must be seen. The photocalls are organized especially for photographers, helping to promote the cast and the film. The stars know that it is part of their job to play the game and give us something to photograph. It can be an attitude, a gesture or sometimes even a little show, spontaneous or maybe prepared in advance by the cast.

The photocalls are like a Colosseum, where photographers can be compared to gladiators, adjusting their cameras like sharpening swords, ready to catch the “moment”. The moment of the photocall can offer glamour, touching seconds or sometimes boring minutes, when the stars don’t offer anything. Photographers exchange some words with the stars but the big show is for the red carpet.

A shot in the dark

A soldier from the U.S. Army's 1st Platoon, Alpha Troop, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Striker Brigade Combat Team scans the area with a scope during a night observation mission in Kandahar Province April 15, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

It’s 1:00am, I’m sitting in a small dirt hole. Not sure exactly where but somewhere in western Kandahar‘s Maiwand district. How did I get here? On a journey that has involved too much time spent waiting. Waiting at Forward Operating Bases, waiting for planes, waiting for people, waiting for helicopters, waiting for convoys, waiting for patrols.

The short version is it hasn’t been the most productive assignment. I am itching to get ‘out there’ and shoot. So I have jumped at the offer to join an observation post patrol on a moonless night in a flat and treeless landscape, looking for militants laying IEDs.

I’ve bumbled my way out the back of an armored Stryker, across rocky ground, closely tailing a few soldiers who unlike me are equipped with night vision gear. It’s inky black, no illumination permitted. I even have the small red indictor lights on my camera’s back covered with tape. So now I’m in this little dirt hole. It’s dark, really dark. No light at all…… Well, except the billion or so stars above.